A point gained against the Moatsiders
Kingstonian kicked off 2019 with a stalemate against in-form Merstham at King George’s Field, although but for the intervention of keeper Rob Tolfrey, the afternoon could’ve been much worse.
Over the Christmas period, the Moatsiders had beaten high-fliers Lewes and Dorking Wanderers, before earning a creditable draw away to table-topping Haringey Borough, so were certainly not to be taken lightly in this New Year’s Day clash.
Yet K’s started the game much the brighter, with Louie Theophanous volleying an early Delano Sam-Yorke cross just over the bar, before Alfie Doughty saw a shot palmed wide by visiting keeper Amadou Tangara.
It was a first half where our opponents enjoyed more possession, but we carved out the better chances, and the best fell to Ben Dempsey, on loan from Charlton. The youngster won possession near the halfway line, before surging forward into the Merstham penalty box. With Tangara closing the angle, Dempsey was pressured into screwing his shot over the bar.
The visitors wrestled some semblance of control in the second half, but found an in-form Tolfrey standing between them and three points.
The 31-year-old pulled off two superb second half saves when it looks as though Merstham would break the deadlock. The one time Kingstonian’s No.1 had looked like being beaten, Walter Figueira inexplicably fired over from close range.
There were still second half chances for Theophanous and Dean Inman, but the game eventually went as flat as the previous evening’s leftover champagne.
“We weren’t really at the races, we didn’t press the way we were meant to,” boss Leigh Dynan said after the full-time whistle. “If you don’t press Merstham they will look like a non-league Brazil. But our backline and the keeper were very good and contained them. Rob Tolfrey was outstanding today, clearing his lines, talking, coming for crosses.”
The goalkeeper echoed his manager’s frustrations, but insists K’s just have to keep plugging away in the battle for promotion to National League South.
“I think, from the playing side, we’ve just got to worry about winning football matches, and not think about setting a bar for the end of the season,” Tolfrey added. “Everyone wants to do well. We don’t think of it as pressure. Just go display by display. Like today we probably weren’t where we should’ve been. We need to keep our levels high.”
As Lewes and Dorking would probably attest, a festive point against Merstham isn’t necessarily a bad one.
Kingstonian: Rob Tolfrey, Sean Clohessy, Jay Gasson, Ben Dempsey, Dean Inman, Tommy Brewer, Louie Theophanous, Shaun McAuley, James Daly, Delano Sam-Yorke, Alfie Doughty.
Subs: Calum Davies (for Walter Figueira, 88m), Ben Harrison, Caio Guimaraes, Tayshan Hayden-Smith (for Tutu Henriques, 16m), Ollie Cook.